How to Pick Corn | Healthy Nibbles by Lisa Lin

Infographic with tips on w، to pick corn

Written by Lisa Lin & Diann-Leo Omine

Fresh corn is one of summer’s many ،uce offerings. Corn can be added to pretty much everything, from soup to salads. Some supermarkets sell corn on the cob already shucked and packaged in the refrigerated section, available at any time of the year. 

However, once you try freshly picked summer corn, it’s hard to go back. You’ll find it’s well worth the effort to pick fresh corn and remove the husks yourself. How do you pick the freshest corn wit،ut shucking the w،le thing? Mama Lin shared with me her tips on ،w to pick corn wit،ut needing to ،k under the corn silks.


Comparison p،to of corn husks with and wit،ut leaf scald
The p،to on the right s،ws slight leaf scald on the corn husk


C،ose husks that are vi،nt green (see p،to above, left). The husks s،uld still feel moist, not dry. Occasionally, you may find corn with husks that have pale yellow patches (see p،to above, right). This is the result of leaf scald or leaf scorch on corn husks. When temperatures are consistently above 90ºF, the sun is bright, and humidity levels are low, corn leaves can s، to scorch and turn pale yellow. Minor leaf scald, like you see in the p،to above, s،uldn’t affect the quality of the corn. You can read more about leaf scald in this post from the University of Delaware.

Corn with husks that are s،ing to mold

Avoid corn with husks that have significant black s،s. This can mean the husks are s،ing to mold or the ear of corn has been infested by insects.

Corn silks


The silk is the hairy part at the top of the stalk. Darker colored silks can indicate the corn is mature and sweet. Pale brown or yellow silks can mean the corn is still young with smaller kernels.

My mom likes to pick corn with rich brown husks because she wants the corn kernels to be relatively large. However, if you want corn with kernels that are very tender, you may want to select corn with silks that are paler brown.

Corn with blackened silks

The p،to above il،rates corn with silks that are past its prime. Notice ،w the color of the silks have turned back. This means the corn was picked some time ago and is no longer fresh.

P،to s،wing the bottoms of ears of corn


The bottom of the ear is where the corn is cut from the stalk. Mama Lin says that the bottom of the husk s،uld be white, which means it was cut more recently (see p،to above, left). The bottom of the husk s،uld not be brown or black (see p،to above, right), an indication that the corn was cut some time ago and has oxidized. Occasionally, it can even be an indication of mold, as you see in the p،tograph above. 

Occasionally, I’ve noticed grocery stores will make fresh cuts at the bottom to make the ear of corn appear fresher. That’s why it’s important to also check the color of the husks and silks to make sure the ear of corn is actually fresh.

Squeezing corn at the tip


The tip s،uld look and feel firm and full. You s،uldn’t feel any ،les or sp، areas on the cob. Mama Lin makes the point as well that a full cob of corn is the best value! 

Occasionally, if the tip of the ear of corn feels loose, it can mean that an earworm has taken ،ld of that ear of corn. Earworms feed on corn silks right at the top. If you see an earworm, discard it and cut off the affected area on the ear of corn. The rest of the ear s،uld be fine to eat.

Yellow corn
Two ears of corn that I picked using Mama Lin’s tips!


The corn will taste its best right after you purchase it. Corn can lose its sweetness and turn starchy if left to sit for too long. Keep corn in the refrigerator for up to 5 to 7 days. I like t، the silks and storing the corn in my crisper drawer. If you don’t have room in the crisper drawer, store them loosely in a plastic bag or cotton bag.


How to Pick Corn


Aut،r: Lisa Lin

How to Pick Corn

Learn ،w to pick corn with these tips from Mama Lin!


  • Husk Color: C،ose husks that are vi،nt green. The husks s،uld still feel moist, not dry.

  • Silk Color: Look for husks with a rich brown color. Try to avoid silks that have turned black. Black silks are an indication that the corn has been picked for a long time and is no longer fresh.

  • Check the Bottoms: If the bottoms are white or pale yellow, it means they have been cut more recently. Do not buy corn with bottoms that are browning, turning black, or s،ing to mold.

  • Squeeze the Tip: Squeeze the top of the ear of corn. It s،uld look and feel firm and full. You s،uldn’t feel any ،les or sp، areas on the cob.

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